PROSE AND CONS.
By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.
Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.
First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.
BIRD MAN… by John Doran
The months passed, and the crow paired up with another pretty crow. After a number of years the rooftop was covered with crows, and Kevin would mix the bread and butter in a bucket and feed them every morning. He always took good care of the crows if anything happened to them and he always cleaned up after them and washed the benches after they were fed. This passed the morning for him.
A prisoner, Gitboy, was transferred from Mountjoy Prison : he was a very violent man, who was always in trouble. He was well known throughout all the prisons, and all the prisoners would never trust him, if they had a fight with him, as he had a reputation for attacking people from behind. His face was covered with scars. Gitboy was a big man with grey hair, some prisoners feared him. He moved ‘next door’ to Kevin, and things were quiet for a few days. But one morning Gitboy told kevin “I’m going to kill all the crows”. Kevin asked him why he would do that, and Gitboy replied “I don’t like crows, they wake me up too early in the mornings.” Kevin told him that would be a bad thing to do, as the crows are harmless.
Gitboy tried to headbutt Kevin, but Kevin was like lightning : he got out of Gitboy’s way and quickly gave him a left and a right to the jaw, and Gitboy went down. Kevin could have finished him off but he didn’t. Gitboy got to his feet and Kevin done the ‘Ali shuffle’ and gave him a few more head punches. Gitboy fell to the floor and busted his head open. He was out for the count… (MORE LATER.)
IS PEACE SAFE WITH ANDREWS….?
Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As ‘Magill’ went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O’Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From ‘Magill’ magazine, February 1998.
But no matter how often violence blocks the path, if Northern Ireland (sic) is ever to find stability the present peace process, or something very like it*, still seems the most likely route to the necessary compromises. Which is the framework worked out two years ago by the two governments. Sinn Féin never openly welcomed that document **. It is a measure of how they have come to terms internally with compromise that they now profess such concern at the possibility that Dublin has backed away from it.
This is how a republican definition of that compromise goes in private: “The framework document turns out to be the minimum republicans*** could sell. The minimum. And only because it implies a dynamic towards an open-ended settlement, in the assurance of demographic change, sectarianism shrinking here so we can end up in a decent place—which, you know, isn’t that hard to stick. With further possibilities.”
An upbeat note. The downside is the grim possibility that, even if a stable compromise is ever reached by “the central ground of the Ulster Unionists, SDLP, Alliance and Sinn Féin” – a surprising recent description by John Major – violence by groups outside any new consensus, like the LVF and INLA, may still not come to an end.
(* The “something very like it” will have to include a very definite date of withdrawal from Ireland by Westminster otherwise it, too – like the 1998 effort – will fail. // ** “never openly welcomed” ? Not ‘openly’ so , perhaps (but internally their leadership were letting it be known that they supported it), in February 1998, when that article was published but, within weeks, the Provisional Sinn Féin organisation and its affiliates, were publicly supporting it. // *** For “republicans” read ‘nationalists’ – republicans had already rejected that ‘treaty’.)
(END of ‘Is Peace Safe With Andrews?’ NEXT – ‘Irish Political Prisoners In England’, from ‘Iris’ magazine, July/August 1982.)
1916 – WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR IRISH WOMEN….?
By Ursula Barry.
. What is there for women in Ireland to commemorate in 1916? Did the 1916 Proclamation and the subsequent ‘Democratic Programme of the First Dáil’ contain radical or revolutionary statements on the position of women in Irish society that were later betrayed or sold out in the process of establishing the Free State?
From ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991.
A time when socialism, feminism and republicanism were on the agenda, were subject to debate, when ideas were explored and revolution was in the air, when women were organised and militant and powerful enough to ensure that those early documents which attempted to characterise the incipient republic asserted a radical image of a society in which the equality of women and the rights of workers and small farmers would be a founding principle.
Key individuals, like Constance Markievicz, James Connolly and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, were central to this process but the debate around the kind of social and economic system which was to be built in an independent Ireland was weak and thin on the ground. It is hardly surprising, in that context, that it was so marginalised and that feminist and workers’ organisations were subjugated in the early decades of the Free State.
It should also be said that the conservative and essentially anti-women ideology that shaped the contours of the Free State and the Six-County State have always been part of Irish nationalism. Radical popular republicanism and right-wing reactionary thinking have existed side by side inside the Republican Movement throughout its history. (MORE LATER.)
I DON’T GET PAID TWICE FOR THE SAME JOB, AND I DON’T PAY TWICE FOR THE SAME UTILITY!
An RSF protester at one of the many protests held in this State against the forced imposition of a double-tax on the supply of household water.
It hasn’t gone away, you know. Although it has eased off considerably, due to the impending State ‘general election’ which, apparently, is due to be held here sometime in the next six weeks and the politicians don’t want the electorate being reminded that one of the ways in which they attempted to screw them more than once – the water tax – is still an on-going issue which has only been ‘parked’ (postponed) until after they get as many voters as possible to vote for them (myself and other sensible citizens will be voting ‘NOTA’ so as not to encourage those political parasites).
Anyway : a protest march against this double-tax will be held on Saturday 23rd January 2016, in Dublin and in about 30 other venues throughout the State. In a statement, the Right2Water campaign said:
“As the Government parties gear up for a General Election, they need to be told loud and clear that public opposition to water charges remains unabated – and will be reflected in the ballot box come polling day. Not only are water charges being used to give tax breaks to the richest in society and corporations but this Government have now opened the door to the privatisation of our human ‘Right2Water’. We are the only EU country with zero water poverty because we already pay for our water through progressive general taxation based on need, not means. We are determined it will stay that way. On January 23rd (2016), people around the country (sic) will have an opportunity to remind their local politicians that water will be the number one issue in this election campaign.”
Details of these protests are as follows : Carlow/Kilkenny – Liberty Tree, Carlow Town – 2:00pm | Cavan – Argos Car Park, Cavan Town – 1:30pm | Clare* – Limerick City Hall – 2:00pm | Cork – Grand Parade – 2:00pm | Donegal – Mr. Chippie, Letterkenny – 2:00pm | Dublin – Local – St. Peter’s Church, Phibsboro, D7 – 1:00pm | Dublin City Centre Event – Connolly Station and Christchurch – 2:00pm | Dun Laoghaire – People’s Park – 11:00am | Galway – Eyre Square – 2:00pm | Kerry – McKenna’s Corner, Listowel – 12 Noon | Kerry – Greyhound Track, Tralee – 2:00pm | Kildare – Kildare Co. Council HQ, Naas – 2:00pm | Limerick – Limerick City Hall – 2:00pm | Longford/Westmeath – Battery Road, Longford Town – 2:00pm | Louth – Fairgreen, Dundalk – 2:00pm | Mayo – Castlebar – 1:00pm | Meath – Enfield – 12:00am | Meath – Navan – 2:00pm | Meath – Oldcastle – 4:00pm | Meath East – Arkle Monument, Ashbourne – 2:00pm | Sligo/Leitrim – GPO, Sligo – 2:00pm | Tipperary – Sarsfield Street, Clonmel – 2:00pm | Waterford – The Glen, Waterford – 2:00pm | Wexford – Community School Car Park, Gorey – 2:00pm | Wicklow – Wicklow Co. Council HQ, Wicklow Town – 2:00pm.
As I mentioned above, it may be all quiet now re this issue but, after the election, those elected will once again attempt to enforce this unjust double-tax on the fools that will have voted for them and also on the rest of us that wouldn’t pass them the time of day, never mind actually vote for them. It’s up to all of us to not only ignore them at the polls (by voting ‘NOTA’) but by making sure they don’t ignore us – a strong and noisy demo on Saturday 23rd January 2016 will help ensure that we don’t go unnoticed, as will this :“To coincide with the local marches that will be taking place across the country (sic), ‘Tallaght Says No’, ‘We Won’t Pay’ and ‘Jobstown Not Guilty’ will be working with other local groups to organise the next march in Dublin South West. Now wait for it – here is the icing on the cake! We are lucky enough to have one of the parties who have hammered us over the last few years in our neck of the woods. Fine Gael are holding their Ard Fheis in Citywest Hotel (on Friday/Saturday 22nd/23rd January 2016) , sitting right at the last stop on the Red Luas line. How is that for fortunate!
So come on – let’s get together and start the New Year reminding them that we will not forgive or forget – we wont take anymore of their austerity measures! We won’t be paying their water charges! Let them know that we won’t take the criminalisation of Jobstown and the attack on the right to protest lying down! Let’s make this the best one yet! Assemble (on Saturday 23rd) at 1pm at Citywest Shopping Centre and we will march up to Citywest Hotel to let them know that we have had enough!” (From here.)
A selection of the leaflets which RSF members will be distributing at one or other or both (!) protests this coming Saturday, 23rd January 2016.
I know that RSF in that area have ‘split their numbers’ and have organised for most of their members to attend the water tax protest in Dublin city centre but have requested some local activists to attend the Citywest protest instead, and I presume other interested organisations will have done the same. Either way – whether you attend a ‘big’ or ‘small’ protest, no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ that protest is, it’s important that you get there to show your support. We’re not the ‘criminals’ – they are!
ON THIS DATE (20TH JANUARY) 43 YEARS AGO : SACKVILLE PLACE IN DUBLIN BOMBED BY LOYALISTS. FOR THE SECOND TIME IN SEVEN WEEKS.
A photograph from the scene of the loyalist bombing in Dublin on Saturday 20th January 1973 – 43 years ago on this date – in which one man died (29-year-old Scottish born Thomas Douglas, a bus conductor) and 13 people were injured.
‘On Saturday 20 January 1973, seven weeks after the December 1972 bombings, a further bomb exploded in Dublin city centre killing one man…unbelievably, the location was once again Sackville Place and the bombers were now beginning to thumb their noses at the security forces…by choosing to bomb the same location twice within seven weeks…the bombing was never claimed by the organisation which carried it out, but no one was in any doubt that loyalists were involved…the bomb, which contained 20 pounds of explosives, was planted in a red Vauxhall Viva car, registration number EOI 1129, which was hijacked in Agnes Street off the Shankill Road in Belfast that morning…’
(from here, and details on the author can be read here.)
Regardless of how active their campaign is in Dublin (or elsewhere in Ireland) or whether they claim responsibility for their actions or not, the fact remains that as long as Westminster continues to maintain a political and military presence in Ireland the loyalists can be ‘activated’ anytime the British administration feels it would be advantageous to do so. The loyalists and other pro-British elements can only be neutralised when Westminster stops interfering in this country.
ON THIS DATE (20TH JANUARY) 93 YEARS AGO : 11 IRA PRISONERS PULLED FROM THEIR CELLS AND EXECUTED BY FREE STATERS.
On this date – 20th January – in 1923, Free State forces removed 11 of the IRA prisoners (‘Irregulars’) they were holding and executed each one of them. Sixteen months previous to executing those men, Leinster House politicians had signalled their intent to do so in order to secure their own positions in the new Free State, declaring that those IRA men were fighting against what they described as ‘a legitimate Irish authority..’ About one year before that awful day, those Free State executioners would have fought on the same side, in the fight against Westminster, as those they executed on that Saturday, 20th January 1923.
Five Anti-Treaty I.R.A. men were executed by firing squad, at about 8am that day, in Custume Barracks, Athlone, County Westmeath : Thomas Hughes, from Bogginfin, Athlone, who was Lieutenant Commandant, ‘Officer Commanding Munitions’, Western Division I.R.A. He had served as Captain with the 3rd Engineers Dublin Brigade and was also ‘Officer Commanding Munitions’ in Athlone. Michael Walsh, born in Derrymore, County Galway. He was Vice-Commandant, 2nd Battalion No. 1 Brigade, Western Division. Herbert Collins, a native of Kickeen, Headford, County Galway, who was captured at Currahan and charged with being in possession of arms and ammunition. Stephen Joyce, a native of Derrymore, Caherlistrane, County Galway and Martin Burke, a native of Caherlistrane, County Galway – he was Officer Commanding, Active Service Unit Number 3 Brigade, Western Division.
Four of the IRA men (‘Irregulars/Anti-Treaty Army’) – Michael Brosnan of Rathenny, Tralee, County Kerry, John Clifford of Mountlake Caherciveen, County Kerry, James Daly from Knock, Killarney, County Kerry and James Hanlon of Causeway, Tralee, County Kerry – were executed at Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee, Kerry : they were ‘found guilty’ of being in possession of arms and ammunition under the ‘Emergency Powers Act’ but local opinion was that the four men were put to death because of on-going attacks on the railway system in the Kerry area.
Two I.R.A. men were executed at Limerick Jail : Commandant Cornelius ‘Con’ McMahon, Limerick, and fellow Limerick man Volunteer Patrick Hennessy. Both men were charged with the destruction of Ardsollus railway station in County Clare on the 14th of January 1923 and were ‘found guilty’ of same and of being in possession of guns and ammunition. Patrick Hennessy was secretary of Clare County Gaelic Athletic Association and a member of the county team. Con McMahon had served a term in prison in Limerick Jail in 1920.
Also, for the record, between 17th November 1922 and 2nd May 1923, seventy-seven Irish republican prisoners were removed from their prison cells and shot dead by order of the Free State administration. In this post we name those 77 men and list where each man was executed and the date of same. We do so in the hope that these men will not be forgotten :
James Fisher, Dublin, November 17th.
Peter Cassidy, Dublin, November 17th.
Richard Twohig, Dublin , November 17th.
John Gaffney, Dublin, November 17th.
Erskine Childers, Dublin, November 24th.
Joseph Spooner, Dublin, November 30th.
Patrick Farrelly, Dublin, November 30th.
John Murphy, Dublin, November 30th.
Rory O Connor, Dublin, December 8th.
Liam Mellows, Dublin, December 8th.
Joseph McKelvey, Dublin, December 8th.
Richard Barrett, Dublin, December 8th.
Stephen White, Dublin, December 19th.
Joseph Johnston, Dublin, December 19th.
Patrick Mangan, Dublin, December 19th.
Patrick Nolan, Dublin, December 19th.
Brian Moore, Dublin, December 19th.
James O’Connor, Dublin, December 19th.
Patrick Bagnel, Dublin, December 19th.
John Phelan, Kilkenny, December 29th.
John Murphy, Kilkenny, December 29th.
Leo Dowling, Dublin, January 8th.
Sylvester Heaney, Dublin, January 8th.
Laurence Sheeky, Dublin, January 8th.
Anthony O’Reilly, Dublin, January 8th.
Terence Brady, Dublin, January 8th.
Thomas McKeown, Louth, January 13th.
John McNulty, Louth, January 13th.
Thomas Murray, Louth, January 13th.
Frederick Burke, Tipperary, January 15th.
Patrick Russell, Tipperary, January 15th.
Martin O’Shea, Tipperary, January 15th.
Patrick McNamara, Tipperary, January 15th.
James Lillis, Carlow, January 15th.
James Daly, Kerry, January 20th.
John Clifford, Kerry, January 20th.
Michael Brosnan, Kerry, January 20th.
James Hanlon, Kerry, January 20th.
Cornelius McMahon, Limerick, January 20th.
Patrick Hennesy, Limerick, January 20th.
Thomas Hughes, Westmeath, January 20th.
Michael Walsh, Westmeath, January 20th.
Herbert Collins, Westmeath, January 20th.
Stephen Joyce, Westmeath, January 20th.
Martin Bourke, Westmeath, January 20th.
James Melia, Louth, January 22nd.
Thomas Lennon, Louth, January 22nd.
Joseph Ferguson, Louth, January 22nd.
Michael Fitzgerald, Waterford, January 25th.
Patrick O’Reilly, Offaly, January 26th.
Patrick Cunningham, Offaly, January 26th.
Willie Conroy, Offaly, January 26th.
Colum Kelly, Offaly, January 26th.
Patrick Geraghty, Laoise, January 27th.
Joseph Byrne, Laoise, January 27th.
Thomas Gibson, Laoise, February 26th.
James O’Rourke, Dublin, March 13th.
William Healy, Cork, March 13th.
James Parle, Wexford, March 13th.
Patrick Hogan, Wexford, March 13th.
John Creane, Wexford, March 13th.
Séan Larkin, Donegal, March 14th.
Tim O’Sullivan, Donegal, March 14th.
Daniel Enright, Donegal, March 14th.
Charles Daly, Donegal, March 14th.
James O’Malley, Galway, April 11th.
Francis Cunnane, Galway, April 11th.
Michael Monaghan, Galway, April 11th.
John Newell, Galway, April 11th.
John McGuire, Galway, April 11th.
Martin Moylan, Galway, April 11th.
Richard Hatheway, Kerry, April 25th.
James McEnery, Kerry, April 25th.
Edward Greaney, Kerry, April 25th.
Patrick Mahoney, Clare, April 26th.
Christopher Quinn, Clare, May 02nd.
William Shaughnessy, Clare, May 02nd.
Those 77 men did not take up arms in the belief that they were fighting for the establishment of a morally corrupt so-called ‘half-way-house’ institution, nor did they do so to assist the British in the ‘governance’ of one of their ‘part’ colonies : that which those men and many other men and women fought for remains to be achieved : ‘Unfinished Business’, if you like. You can help present-day Irish republicans to achieve that aim…
ON THIS DATE (20TH JANUARY) 95 YEARS AGO : CLARE IRA AMBUSH BRITISH FORCES.
On the 20th January 1921 – 95 years ago on this date – over thirty men of the East Clare Brigade of the IRA ambushed an RIC patrol at Glenwood near Sixmilebridge, County Clare, killing six of their number. The well organised rebels suffered zero casualties and captured a significant amount of guns and ammunition. Numerous houses in the general area were burned by the RIC that evening in reprisal for the attack :
‘In mid January 1921, orders were sent to all six battalions of the East Clare Brigade asking all available I.R.A. Volunteers to assemble at Parker’s house, Castlelake on the morning of the 20th of January. The officers of the Brigade had decided to attempt to ambush the regular R.I.C. patrol travelling from Sixmilebridge to Broadford.
On the appointed day, thirty seven I.R.A Volunteers reported for duty. Half of them carried rifles while the remainder were armed with shotguns and revolvers. A number of the republicans who had arrived unarmed,
volunteered as scouts. Volunteer Joseph Clancy of Kilkishen, a local and a former soldier in the British Army, suggested a suitable location for the attack at the rear entrance to Glenwood House. Michael Brennan accepted his advice and divided up the men into different sections and explained the plan of attack. At Glenwood the republican scouts were posted along the road a short distance in both directions from the I.R.A.’s new position. The thirty or so remaining I.R.A. Volunteers were divided into three sections under the command of Michael Brennan, his brother Austin Brennan of Meelick and Tom McGrath of O’Callaghan’s Mills. The men in Michael Brennan’s section
were all armed with rifles and positioned along a high stone wall just north of the gate to Glenwood house. The stone wall would give them a good cover from enemy fire and a direct line of fire for about fifty or sixty yards.
Michael Brennan himself was armed with a revolver and stood a few yards behind the men in his group positioned along this wall. Joseph Clancy was hidden behind a large holly bush on top of the wall keeping watch along the road as the other Volunteers remained hidden. Austin Brennan’s group of Volunteers equipped with rifles and shotguns, was placed fifty yards further north behind another stone wall. The remaining men under Tom Mc Grath’s command were located along the edge of a field a hundred yards to the south of the gate armed with revolvers. The ambushers were to hold their fire, until riflemen under Michael Brennan’s command attacked the lorry…at about 4pm, a motorised patrol of ten armed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Black and Tan members, travelling from Sixmilebridge to Broadford, approached the back gate of Glenwood house.
Waiting for them, concealed behind the walls of the Glenwood estate, was a group of approximately 37 armed IRA volunteers from the East Clare Brigade of the IRA, led by Michael Brennan of Meelick. As the British patrol passed by the gates, a fusillade of gunshot, fired by the waiting group, struck them. Six RIC and Black and Tans were killed, two were injured and two escaped unhurt. One IRA volunteer was injured. The ambush party withdrew in good order through the forest and mountains to the East of Glenwood, towards Oatfield. The surviving members of the British patrol made their way back to Sixmilebridge.
The local people, on hearing of the news of the ambush, braced themselves for the inevitable retribution which would follow. In an orgy of violence on that evening and in the following days, Black and Tans and Auxiliaries burned houses, destroyed property and terrorised and assaulted local people…’ (from here.)
The destructive and vindictive nature of the British forces that remain in Ireland are felt today by republicans in the Occupied Six Counties and, even though those forces wear a different uniform to that displayed by the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries, their methods and their objective is the same. And the resolve of Irish republicans, too, is the same.
ON THIS DATE (20TH JANUARY) 114 YEARS AGO : “TURN INFORMER OR WE’LL KILL YOU…”.
On this date – 20th January – in 1902, a baby boy was born in Dublin who was to capture world support and sympathy while still in his teens : the child’s name was Kevin Barry (pictured, left), and he was born into a strong Irish republican family which could trace members of its clan as having been active in 1798 with Wolfe Tone. Kevin Barry, 18 years young, was executed on the 1st November 1920 in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin, and was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since 1916. At the time of his death his eldest brother Mick was OC of the Volunteers in Tombeigh and his sister, Sheila, was in Cumann na mBan. He was captured while on active service outside the entrance of Monk’s bakery in Dublin. Although, as stated, born in Dublin, he spent much of his life at the family home in Tombeigh, Hackettstown, Carlow, and both sides of his family – the Barry’s and the Dowling’s – came from the Carlow area, and some of his ancestors had fought in 1798. He attended national school in Rathvilly, Carlow, for a few years, before going to Belvedere College in Dublin where he was a medical student.
Kevin Barry’s body was not returned to his family for burial ; he was interred within the prison confines of Mountjoy Jail and was the first of what was to become know as ‘the Forgotten Ten’. Because Munster and a small part of Leinster was under martial law those executed there were shot as soldiers but, as Dublin was under civilian law, those executed in Mountjoy were hanged. In his ‘Sworn Statement’ (‘written testimony’), Kevin Barry wrote –
“I, Kevin Barry, of 58, South Circular Road, in the County of Dublin, Medical Student, aged 18 years and upwards solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: On the 20th of September, 1920, I was arrested in Upper Church Street by a Sergeant of the 2nd Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and was brought under escort to the North Dublin Union, now occupied by military. I was brought into the guard room and searched. I was then moved to the defaulter’s room by an escort with a Sergeant-Major, who all belonged to 1st Lancashire Fusiliers. I was then handcuffed. About 15 minutes after I was put into the defaulter’s room, two Commissioned Officers of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers came in. They were accompanied by 3 Sergeants of the same unit. A military policeman who had been in the room since I entered it remained.
One of the officers asked me my name, which I gave. He then asked me for the names of my companions in the raid. I refused to give them. He tried to persuade me to give the names and I persisted in refusing. He then sent a Sergeant for a bayonet. When it was brought in the Sergeant was ordered by this officer to point the bayonet at my stomach. The same questions as to the names and addresses of my companions were repeated with the same results. The Sergeant was then ordered to turn my face to the wall and point the bayonet to my back. The Sergeant then said he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell. The bayonet was then removed and I was turned round again. This officer then said that if I still persisted in this attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the Sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm. I was pushed down onto the floor after my handcuffs were removed. When I lay on the floor one of the Sergeants knelt on the small of my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued to the best of my knowledge for 5 minutes. It was very painful.
The first officer was standing near my feet and the officer who accompanied him was still present. During the twisting of my arm the first officer continued to question me for the names and addresses of my companions and the names of my Company Commander or any other (IRA) officer I knew. As I still refused to answer these questions I was let up and handcuffed. A civilian came in and he repeated the same questions with the same results. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew, I could get off. I was then left in the company of the military policeman. The two officers, three sergeants and civilian all left together. I could certainly identify the officer who directed the proceedings and put the questions. I am not sure of the others except the Sergeant with the bayonet.
My arm was medically treated by an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the North Dublin Union the following morning and by the prison hospital orderly afterwards for 4 or 5 days. I was visited by the Court Martial Officer last night and he read the confirmation of sentence of death by hanging to be executed on Monday next and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing same to be true and by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act, 1835. Declared and subscribed before me at Mountjoy Prison in the County of the City of Dublin, 28th October, 1920.
(Signed) MYLES KEOGH, a justice of the peace for said County.
KEVIN GERARD BARRY.”
Canon John Waters, the prison chaplain, wrote to Kevin Barry’s mother with a description of his final moments : “His courage was superhuman and rested I am sure, on his simple goodness and innocence of conscience. You are the mother, my dear Mrs Barry, of one of the bravest and best boys I have ever known, he went to the scaffold with the most perfect bravery, without the slightest faltering, ’til the very last moment of his life…” Incidentally, while speaking to Mrs Barry, Canon Waters opined that young Kevin “…does not seem to realise he is going to die in the morning..” to which she asked what was meant by that comment : the priest replied that Kevin “…is so gay* and light-hearted all the time (but) if he fully realised it he would be overwhelmed..” – Mrs Barry took offence at those words and replied “Canon Waters, I know you are not a Republican. But is it impossible for you to understand that my son is actually proud to die for the Republic?” The wise Canon didn’t argue back.
It was on this date – 20th January – 114 years ago, that Kevin Barry was born.
(*’Gay’ – ‘happy’, not as it apparently would be interpreted today.)
ON THIS DATE (20TH) NEXT MONTH (FEBRUARY 2016)…
…Hanlon’s Pub in Phibsboro, Dublin, is the place to be, as Sonia, Chris and Jay – ‘Erin Go Bragh’ – rip the roof off the gaff (vocally, only!) between 8pm and late : it’s a fiver a head to get past the bouncers and you’d be advised to keep another fiver handy for raffle tickets, as I’ve seen some of the prizes and if you are lucky enough to win one of them you’ll probably sell it for a multiple of that, if you’re of a mind to do that, before you leave the place!
(…but business before pleasure : a seminar, entitled ‘Who Fears To Speak Of Easter Week?’, will be held on the above-mentioned date [Saturday 20th February 2016] from 12 noon to 5pm, in Wynn’s Hotel, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin. No cover charge, all welcome!)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.